Colgate quarterback Gavin McCarney rushed for four touchdowns and threw for a pair while leading the Raiders to a 47-24 win over Yale Saturday. (Photo by Bob Cornell)
The Raiders (2-3) polished off in style a challenging month that saw them play four road games in five weekends.
“We had some tough road games, but our kids know how to handle it,” Colgate head coach Dick Biddle said. “We’ve played some tough competition, and it showed today with the way we handled ourselves.”
Colgate’s Gavin McCarney led the offense, accounting for six of the team’s seven touchdowns. Five of those came in the first half, when McCarney was 14-of-16 passing for 227 yards and two TDs through the air to complement his three rushing touchdowns on 58 rushing yards.
For the game, McCarney finished 17-of-22 passing for 275 yards and the two TDs. He added 85 rushing yards and scored four times out of just 14 carries.
“Our quarterback is exceptional,” Biddle said. “Our quarterback is the most underrated player in the league and probably one of the most underrated players I’ve been around.”
Both teams scored on their opening possessions. Yale (1-2) took advantage of a 43-yard kickoff return by Tyler Varga to jump-start their drive at the Yale 46-yard line. The Bulldogs needed only seven plays to reach the end zone, Eric Williams hitting Cameron Sandquist on a 24-yard pass to make it 7-0.
Colgate answered by driving 75 yards in 10 plays. Gavin McCarney was 4-of-4 passing to start and the Raiders quarterback also carried twice for 12 yards, including the final five for the touchdown. It was 7-7 with 7:47 left in the quarter.
Varga again was the key on Yale’s second drive, returning the kickoff 63 yards to the Colgate 34-yard line. Seven plays later, the Bulldogs freshman tailback broke two tackles and rumbled into the end zone from 10 yards out to put Yale back in front 14-7.
The see-saw continued when, on Colgate’s ensuing play from scrimmage, McCarney hit Chris Looney over the middle and the senior wideout split the defense to race 79 yards untouched to pay dirt. It was a career-long completion for both McCarney and Looney.
Andy Burgess’ kick evened the score at 14 with still 4:27 left in the opening stanza.
Raiders linebacker Kris Kent helped slow down Yale’s offense on the next drive, contributing a sack and another tackle for loss. Yale settled for a 37-yard field goal by Philippe Panico on the first play of the second quarter, and it was 17-14 Bulldogs.
Colgate took its first lead on the next possession. Jordan McCord and McCarney were the workhorses, with McCord carrying three times for 34 yards and McCarney keeping twice for 23 yards, including the final 13 on a touchdown sprint to the right. Burgess’ kick made it 21-17 Raiders with 10:41 left in the half.
Colgate’s defense began to catch on to the Yale attack as the game progressed, and the Raiders forced the first punt of the game midway in the second quarter.
Colgate responded with its fourth touchdown in four possessions, this time driving 75 yards in just eight plays and scoring on McCarney’s 31-yard strike to C.J. Stempeck with 4:35 left in the half. The Raiders led 28-17.
Andrew Nairin’s sack of Williams on the next Yale possession put the Raiders in business for one final drive before the half. Colgate took over at its own 46-yard line with 2:19 to play, and not even a holding penalty could slow the Raiders onslaught.
McCarney capped the march by carrying in again, this time from eight yards out to make it 5-for-5 on touchdown drives. Austin Dier’s interception of a tipped ball on the last play of the half preserved Colgate’s 35-17 advantage at the break.
For the half, Colgate was 5-of-6 on third down. And the Raiders completed a fourth-down conversion after their only third-down miss.
To start the second half, Colgate was forced into its first three-and-out of the game. Evan Goldszak’s punt carried to just the Raiders 27-yard line, and Yale needed only five plays to close the gap to 35-24. Williams hit Varga on a swing pass of 10 yards for the touchdown with 11:26 left in the third quarter.
Momentum appeared to clearly shift when on the ensuing kickoff – advanced to the 50-yard line after Colgate roughed the PAT kicker – Panico pooched to the Raiders 10 and Colgate couldn’t field it. Yale’s Kurt Stottlemyer recovered for the Bulldogs at the CU 8.
But Colgate’s defense stiffened and the Bulldogs missed a golden chance when Panico failed on a 26-yard field goal try.
After an exchange of punts, Colgate’s defense again made a play when defensive back Josh Ford picked off a Williams pass and returned it 27 yards to the Yale 19-yard line. Two plays later, McCarney was in the end zone for a fourth time. Colgate’s lead was 41-24 when Burgess PAT try was blocked with 12:08 remaining.
Colgate then iced the game with the McCord ground show. The Raiders senior tailback carried five times on the drive for 36 yards, covering the final eight yards for his fifth touchdown of the season.
McCord topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the fifth time this season, finishing with 138 yards on 24 carries. The Raiders as a team chalked up a season high with 544 yards of total offense.
Colgate defenders picked off three Yale passes, including Chris Horner nabbing his second in as many games. Patrick Friel contributed a game-high 10 tackles and Andrew Nairin added a pair of sacks.
Next up is an open date and then a welcomed two-game home stand. The Raiders begin Patriot League play by hosting Holy Cross for Homecoming on Oct. 13, and Georgetown on Oct. 20.